Posts From April 2008

A Guide to Shopping for Japanese Cosmetics

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I get a crumb load of questions asking me how to shop for Japanese Cosmetics.

Where can I buy Japanese Cosmetics?
How much do they cost?
Any online shops I can buy them from?
Where do you get your Japanese Cosmetics?

I was going to do this post a very long time ago but I just never really had the chance and it was long forgotten on the bottom of my draft pile of blog entries that never got posted!

I’ve tweaked it a bit and rewrote most of it so here it is in all it’s glory!

First of all many Japanese brands are unavailable within the US, UK, and Europe in general. I’ve discussed a few various brands available in a few countries such as Korea, Japan, etc…this particular post will be a guide for purchasing Japanese Cosmetics but in a future post I may cover a few other countries.

If you’re purchasing Japanese Cosmetics online you’ll have to educate yourself a bit on prices and also arm yourself with a few tools.

My first suggestion is install a Chinese and Japanese Language Pack for your browser so you can view various Japanese Websites and get prices on various items prior to purchasing. Downloading and installing these packs will also unable you to copy the text and paste it into a translation tool which helps when trying to figure out what is going on at certain sites.

Click here to download the Japanese Language Pack

Click here to download the Chinese Language Pack

Note: For viewing Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and a few select Chinese sites you may need to install the Traditional Chinese Language Pack as these countries, cultures, and regions use a traditional, more complex form of character than other sites.

I’ve actually found that it doesn’t matter too much which Language Pack you choose however I have all three installed as I find it does make it a tiny bit easier during the tedious translation process!

The reason I recommend this is because most online shops charge anywhere from $5 USD all the way up to $12 USD on top of retail prices. Prices are a good deal higher online then if you happened into a drugstore in Japan and purchased the item yourself!

I almost always pay retail for my Japanese Cosmetics because I have some sincerely beautiful, wonderful friends that live in Japan and do shopping for me. However, on occasion, I am forced to buy items online. In cases like this I want to be sure that I am getting the best deal possible so I do alot of homework prior to purchasing items.

You should also keep in mind that many drugstores in Japan discount various items 25-30% which means the retail prices online do not reflect the discount.

Example:

T’estimo Palettes are shown on the Kanebo website at the price of $30 USD or so however upon purchasing one in a drugstore in Japan the actually cost would be $20 USD or so due to the drugstore discount.

This means it’s an open market for online sellers to charge you $30 and upwards for a palette they paid $20 USD or so for.

Currently, the Yen is very, very strong so you might want to Google around a bit and see if you can locate any Taiwanese shops that sell Japanese Cosmetics as the cost is a bit lower.

I highly recommend JPmon which is located within Taiwan. I’ve done a “how to order” from JPMon on another tutorial page you can find that article by clicking here and here. You’ll be happy to know that the prices measure up pretty nicely with what you’d see on Japanese sites however not the discount you’d get within a Japanese drugstore as mentioned above!

I’ve ordered from JPmon many, many times and I’ve always been very pleased with their services so I highly recommend purchasing from them! If you have a few online friends or friends in general into cosmetics doing a bit of “spree” with friends can cut shipping costs and each of you can split the total cost of shipping which always helps!

Another important tool you’ll need is a currency convertor. This is especially helpful for converting Yen to your currency of choice. This is good tool to have when you’re browsing various Japanese websites and looking at prices to see what the original cost of an item is versus what the online shop you’re buying from is charging. I use XE for conversions. It’s not the best convertor in the world but it does an ok job and is off a few cents at most.

Click here to bookmark XE.

Finally the last tool you’ll need is a translator. This is especially helpful for figuring out what certain items are for, what the details are for an item, etc…

Babel Fish does an ok job with translations but definately not word for word as the language is so complex that “literally” translating it into English (or your language of choice) doesn’t always mean you’ll understand exactly what is going on!

Click here to bookmark Babel Fish.

Babel Fish is especially useful as it translates both simplified and traditional Chinese plus Japanese as well!

I don’t use Babel Fish as much as I do a simple add on for Firefox entitled Translator. It works a treat and makes translating full websites a snap!

You can download this extension by clicking here!

Not many shops online sell Japanese Cosmetics but there are a few that I’ve used in the past and have had great experiences and success with!

Those sites are, as follows:

  • www.adambeauty.com
  • www.bobodave.com
  • www.facial-shop.com
  • www.ichibankao.com
  • www.jpmon.com
  • www.gooddealer.com
  • sh1.yahoo.edyna.com/hijapan (I’m sorry but I do not have a tutorial for ordering from Hi Japan but maybe I’ll do one in the future!)

The best possible prices are located at Adam Beauty and JPMon in my humble opinion and Facial Shop also has some incredible deals as well!

Other places you might see Japanese Cosmetics from would be E-bay. E-bay has many sellers that sell various Japanese Cosmetics. I find asking for a deal on shipping, asking for lower prices, etc..sometimes works with E-bay sellers. Remember to be courtesy when asking and reasonable. If something is marked as $39.99 USD and they want $9.99 shipping don’t go and ask them to give it to you for $20 with Free Shipping. I think you understand my point?

I also find that dealing with the same E-bay Seller over and over again makes the chances of scoring a deal from them easier!

Please keep in mind prior to purchasing cosmetics that freshness is important! I find in some cases some online shops do sell older items. This is particular true of BoboDave on occasion and Hi Japan. The good thing about this is that some items, such as LE, are still available from these shops but the bad thing is the product is older. Keep that in mind prior to making your purchase! This is one reason I do not shop at Strawberry.net. Items are awfully old and beyond shelf date!

Below is a list of links for various Japanese Brands that I adore (I’m sure I left a few out!):

I think I pretty much covered everything you need to know about ordering Japanese Cosmetics. If you need any help do comment and I’ll happily help in anyway I can!

Good Luck and Happy Shopping!

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BPAL: News from the Lab

Just a friendly little reminder about BPAL!

The New Atomic Luau Lounge oils are being removed on the 23rd of April so now might be a good time to place an order!

It’s rare BPAL does blends like this which are fruity in nature so if you’re seeking a beautifully fruity, summery blend you might want to check these out!

I ordered the entire Bar series which included:

Blue Fire: A papaya, blueberry, lemongrass, and gin blend!
Golden Wave: A tangerine, gin, passion fruit, guava, and tonic blend!
Rangoon Riptide: A pineapple, mandarin orange, raspberry, passion fruit and rum blend!
Screeching Parrot: A rum, apricot, pineapple, pink lime, and ginger blend!
Te Po: A Jamaican Rum, almond, orange, sugar, lime, mint, black cherry blend!
Upa Upa: A rum, coconut, pineapple, vanilla blend!

They all sound quite yummie and I’m eagerly awaiting their arrival! The Collection ends on April 23rd as I mentioned above so you might want to wander on and grab a few or all!

I also ordered several sets from the Stardust series as I haven’t had a chance to try out two of the blends from the collection which are Fairy Wine and Fairy Market. Eager for those two to complete my collection!

Anyway a little BPAL babblings for those of you that adore the Lab as much as I do!

Clueless about BPAL?

Click over here for my introduction on what BPAL is, where you can buy it, etc…!

Cheers!

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Beauty Secrets: Whitening Your Skin, How To Rid Yourself of Dark Circles, and Other Babblings

Great title right? Whiten your skin? Sounds very strange!

You may have read on a few occasions where I mentioned that I use a “secret” whitening agent on my skin prior to foundation. This is in fact a post about what I use to achieve not only a flawless completion but also how I take the shade of my skin down a notch or two or three if I so desire (I normally try to lighten it one shade down as I believe it makes me appear fresher).

Those of you from the western side of the world may find this a strange technique and those of you from the eastern side of the world may very well relate to wanting your skin a shade or two lighter then what it already is.

But Muse why do you want your skin tone lighter?

The Muse does not embrace the idea of being tan or bronze. For myself personally I don’t like my skin as it is. It’s a medium fair and to me it appears very dull. This is not to say that darker skin types aren’t beautiful because they are very gorgeous! The problem is that I don’t like the way I look in a shade of medium. My skin somehow lacks the flawlessness I seek in it’s current state. My sister favors my dad and is a deeper tan color and she works it well but my own skin tone feels dull to me.

So what do I do? I take it down a notch or two and make it whiter (or paler whichever way you want to say it!).

I think whitening it gives me not only a fresher look but also a good working canvas for my makeup. Colors seem to be brighter on my face, my foundation seems to work better, and I just appear younger and more flawless looking when I take the extra step to whiten my skin.

Think of the beautiful Geisha and maiko and the utter elegance of their makeup. Granted we don’t want to appear that white but the beauty of the Geisha’s flawless face can’t be denied.

I think Asian woman on a whole are always looking for that extra step to whiten their skin a notch or two which could account for how popular whitening fluids, foundations, etc…are within Japan, China, Etc…. Most of these products do not technically whiten the skin but just offer a bit of shimmer or what I call a candlelight glow. I can’t count how many items are available for purchase that have “whitening” in the title outside of the US. From creams to foundations and powders! And yes the Muse has tried and used them all!

The idea and popularity of a pale complexion within the Asian culture is pretty common and woman go to extreme lengths to keep their skin pale.

I admit that I do much the same. I am utterly obsessed with staying out of the sun. I look terrible tan. Absolutely terrible. And I go to the extreme myself to keep my skin as pale as humanly possible.

I guess I’m babbling a bit here and you’re about ready to hear what I use to whiten my skin.

I don’t normally share my secrets but since the Muse loves you so much she’ll tell you exactly how to take your skin tone down a few notches. Since starting Musings and mentioning my “whitening agent” I get at least an e-mail a day asking about it. I know of at least six readers that actually went out and purchased the item that I am about to show you and have had good to great success using it (I hope they’ll comment and let us know how they are doing with it!).

Lilac Base.

Huh? What’s dat?

If you can find a cream base of lilac you can easily take your skin tone down a notch. Blended correctly it’ll look flawless and very natural.

I’ve been using the same Lilac Base for Mmmmm about 12 years or so? Maybe a bit more. This may come as a shock but the Lilac cream base I use is from Signature Club A. Those of you here in the US are probably familiar with the line. It’s sold via HSN. The entire collection is pretty much geared towards the mature lady and truly most of the items sold are utter crap but the lilac cream base is freaking outstanding.

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A really, really long time ago a friend of my mother’s had seen how into cosmetics I was and she had purchased me a kit from Signature Club A. Granted it was super nice of her to do so but at the time I couldn’t help thinking, “what the hell am I going to do with this garbage?”

Turns out she did me a rather awesome favor because inside the kit was a color wheel palette which included several face primers ranging from beige, pale blue, lilac, pink, peach, and yellow. I ended up using three of the colors religiously in my everyday routine and to this day I still use them and repurchase them again and again and again.

Which colors and how do I use them?

  • Lilac: Used as a pre-foundation base for lightening my skin.
  • Light Blue: Used under my eyes prior to concealer to diminish dark circles COMPLETELY and brighten my eye area 100%!
  • Yellow: Used under my eyes and sometimes on my face to calm any red spots.
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The lowdown on Lilac:

You have to be very, very, very, very careful when using this cream. It’s very pigmented and it reminds me of clown makeup. It’s referred to in some reviews as stage makeup which is very correct. It’s very emollient so it’s great for anyone with dry skin. The potential for clogging your pores with this is a reality so to prevent that be sure to wash your face throughly after use. If you’re prone to acne or your face is suffering from break outs now I’d avoid it as this could potentially make it worst. Is it breathable? Yes. It feels very natural on and it doesn’t feel like you’re wearing a mask of makeup.

Lilac Cream Base
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This is not for using as a foundation. This is not for using on it’s own. This is not for using all over your face.

You can’t wear this alone because you’ll look like a ghost. This is most effective when used in conjunction with your normal foundation. You can’t use this all over your face. It’ll make you look awful.

The best way to use this is prep and prime with your toner, moisturizer, and primer of choice. Apply the Lilac onto the sides of your nose and slowly blend it outwards. Apply to the sides of your mouth and above your lip area and blend. These are places that shadow on my skin so they are the areas I concentrate on brightening up. Use a little touch of the product to begin and slowly build it up but don’t go overboard.

Now apply your foundation and concealer and you’re done. Flawless and ready for your main point makeup!

The basics of Blue:

Light blue as a concealer could never work could it? Yes, it works perfectly. Tricia Sawyer knows that but failed to come out with a good enough product to perform the job. Signature Club A’s version of the failed Tricia Sawyer Eye Slept is entitled Anchorwoman Blue. It’s been around a whole lot longer than Tricia Sawyer’s version. I’ve been using this for ages and I’ve never found a better product for totally vanishing my dark circles. This is a light baby blue color and I apply it prior to concealer. You can use it alone if you prefer but be sure to blend properly and not to go overboard. It’s easy enough to apply. A few dots, a pat of your fingertip, and you’re done. I normally apply a concealer on top as it gives a more natural look for me.

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It does wonders for Dark Circles. I swear to you that it will erase any dark circles you may have. The Muse promises this product will change your life. Honest to god. I’ve been using it for over ten years for that reason!

What’s Yellow do?

The final product I use is a Yellow Cream Base from Signature Club A and this basically conceals redness, blemishes, and other imperfections. I use this mostly as a prep for my upper eye area as it preps my eye area for shadow prior to applying my Primer Potion. I normally use Benefit Lemon Aid but I do reach for for this during the breakout days!

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All these colors used to be included in a color wheel palette and I’m actually relieved they now sell them individually for a very inexpensive price of $14.50 USD each. You get a brush and a pot of the concealer color of your choice plus shipping which to me is a deal and a half. Strangely enough this post was inspired by the fact that I am running low on all three colors so I had re-order and decided to go ahead and do a post about it!

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Happily the concealers are now only available in beige, yellow, lilac, and blue where in they used to be combined in a palette with pink and peach as well. I never really used the beige, pink, or the peach so it’s nice that I can now buy the colors I need instead of being forced into buying a palette for a few colors (not that I mind as I’d kill for any of the three colors I mentioned to you).

So that’s all folks. My article on how to take your skin tone down a notch, how to rid yourself of dark, icky circles, and how I achieve “false” flawlessness!

What are your Beauty Secrets?

Share with the Muse!

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MAC DressCamp First Impressions

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I got my MAC DressCamp over the weekend but was too busy to play with it or use any of it! However, I thought I’d post pictures and just a general first impressions of the items for you guys!

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The Collection is very, very nice! As you probably know from my past posts it sold out rather quickly but I was lucky enough to nab it all!

My favorite in the lot was of course the gorgeous palette and the lipglass in She-Gold. I wasn’t loving the lippie in Too Fab or the lipglass in Fashion but I got them anyway since I’m such an addict!

The palette is perfection in my personal opinion! The blush is a beautiful bright pink with just the faintest touch of gold shimmer. Strangely enough the blush is actually labeled by MAC as being a Beauty Powder. It appears pigmented enough to work as a blusher but I haven’t yet tried it on so I’m not entirely sure! From swatching I can tell it was nicely pigmented and had a nice bit of shimmer to it!

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The shadows compliment each other brilliantly as well and it should be easy enough to create a perfect look with all three! I think the gold in this palette quite reminds me of Golden Lemon Pigment. It’s a very true yellow gold and has a beautiful shimmer to it! The other two shades are pretty as well but I think the gold stands out from the rest!

Fashion Lipglass and Too Fab Lipstick are virtually the same color which is perfectly fine if you want to add a bit of a glossy top coat to your lipstick. I’m not completely sold on the color as it’s a very loud bubblegum pink that doesn’t particularly suit my skin tone.

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She-Gold Lipglass is brilliant! I don’t own any gold lipglosses and this will be a perfect addition to my collection as a topcoat for peaches, corals, or even pink lipsticks! It has quite a bit of shimmery gold to it and it compliments the colors of the palette brilliantly!

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I took a few swatches of the palette, lipglasses, and lipstick but they came out a bit crummy! Sorry I’m still learning good swatch technique!

From Left to Right: Fashion Lipglass, She-Gold Lipglass, and Too Fab Lipstick
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MAC DressCamp Palette Swatches
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From Left to Right: MAC DressCamp Palette Swatches and MAC DressCamp Lipglass and Lipstick Swatches With Flash
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Without Flash
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The Collection is truly unique and very pretty! I’m eager to try them on! FOTD to follow shortly!

Were you lucky enough to nab MAC DressCamp?

Love it?

Want it?

Tell the Muse!

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Lavshuca Summer Collection 2008

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Lavshuca has updated it’s website with the Summer Collection!

It appears this Summer they are releasing two new palettes similar in style to the Holiday Palettes however these appear far better quality. Each palette seems to hold six eyeshadow shades. These come in two variations a cooler version which include blues, silvers, and greens and a warmer version which include golds, browns, and beiges. Both look simply gorgeous. Although I am missing the normal style of palettes released from Lavshuca I’m really not minding these at all! They are most definately in my cart for purchase when they are released!

The Holiday Palettes were made of cardboard and these appear to be made of either plastic or metal (I’d say plastic) which is nice as I found the Holiday Palettes a bit delicate!

I’m unsure of the price at this point as Kanebo has not yet updated the catalog with the info but as soon as I know I’ll pass it on to you!

I can’t wait to get my hands on these! These are simply beautiful and I’m positive if you’re a Lavshuca fan you’ll want them as much as me!

Want ‘em?

Love ‘em?

Tell the Muse!

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Click here
to enjoy my review on the Lavshuca Winter Make Holiday Palettes!

Click here
to enjoy my review on the Lavshuca Spring Collection 2008!

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